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FC Barcelona's style of play would not be recognized without Johan Cruyff, and neither would the historic coach and player be recognized without the Blaugrana jersey. An eternal relationship that has an official start date: October 28, 1973. Next Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the debut. On that day, Barça played the eighth round of La Liga at the Camp Nou against Granada after a difficult start to the competition: two wins, two draws and three defeats left them just one point away from relegation. Juan M. Asensi, president of the FC Barcelona Players' Association, a Culé legend and teammate of Johan's for several seasons, admits that "we had a terrible start. If we lost in Castellón, we would become the first team in the Club's history to be last in the league". After a balsamic victory in Castalia, "they told us that Johan would make his debut the following Sunday".
The news was made public the day before the match: Barça had finally received the "Transfer" from the Netherlands and Johan Cruyff would make his debut in an official match the following day. The press reported the news after a Barça manager visited the Granada team on their arrival at the hotel to inquire about the trip and ask them if they needed anything. Afterwards, he gave them the announcement: "tomorrow he will play against you". Joseíto, coach of the rival team, declared that the preparation for the match during the week was useless, that now he had to rethink everything. And he wasn't wrong... His worries became reality. Barça won the match 4-0 in a full Camp Nou with two goals from the star, who was making his debut. The last, with a stunning volley from outside the box.
Salvador Sadurní, the Club's historic goalkeeper and Cruyff's teammate that season, remembers that "Johan's arrival was as if God had arrived". Marcial Pina, a director of the Agrupación and a Barça player that season, adds that the fact that Cruyff played with them "was an incentive". That game was a turning point. Sadurní shares what he told the revolutionary coach Rinus Michels: "If they don't score goals against us, we'll always score a goal or two with the strikers that we have. That means we will always win... And I was right". Barça did not lose again in La Liga until after winning the title, five rounds from the end, at El Molinón after beating Sporting Gijón (2-4).
The Dutchman's attitude since his arrival has been impeccable. When at the beginning the team was not winning, "he encouraged us, he gave us the feeling that he was the savior" - explains Asensi. Marcial happily recalls all the meals where he shared a table with Cruyff, Neeskens and Rexach. “An extraordinary atmosphere -says Sadurní- and an incalculable admiration”. According to Asensi, "we owe the strength, determination and transformation to Johan". The legend of Cruyff was starting to be written.
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